Pending home sales were down slightly in February but remain notably above the pattern in the first half of last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, eased 0.5% to 96.5 in February from 97.0 in January but is 9.2% above February 2011 when it was 88.4. The data reflects contracts but not closings.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said we’re seeing the continuation of an uneven but higher sales pattern. “The spring home buying season looks bright because of an elevated level of contract offers so far this year,” he said. “If activity is sustained near present levels, existing-home sales will see their best performance in five years. Based on all of the factors in the current market, that’s what we’re expecting with sales rising 7% to 10% in 2012."
The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 0.6% to 77.7 in February but is 18.4% above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index jumped 6.5% to 93.8 and is 19.0% higher than February 2011. Pending home sales in the South fell 3.0% to an index of 105.8 in February but are 7.8% above a year ago. In the West, the index declined 2.6% in February to 99.3 and is 1.8% below February 2011.